Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Run a Town Hall Meeting on Your Blog

Here’s a quick tip that I think a lot of bloggers could learn from - run a ‘town hall’ meeting on your blog.

The inspiration from this comes from Digg who are periodically run a ‘Town Hall’ webcast for their members.

The idea is simple - Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson from Digg periodically do a webcast for their members that gives information on the latest news at Digg as well as answering questions from their members. They’ve been running these on a quarterly basis at Digg for over a year now - you can see them all here.

OK - so what’s this got to do with your blog?

Here’s the thing - while Digg are obviously a lot bigger than your average blog and they have more resources to throw at creating these types of Town Hall webcasts - I think bloggers can learn from the idea.

While I’ve never used the term ‘town hall’ meeting on my blogs I have periodically done similar types of things for readers where I product updates on how the blogs are going, talk about new directions and take questions.
Benefits of Town Hall Type Meetings with Blog Readers

What I’ve found is that when you communicate these types of things it can have a real impact upon your reader community in a variety of ways:

* Reader Morale - every time I do this type of exercise I see signs of reader morale lifting.
* Reader Involvement - perhaps tied to the morale of your readers is that when you communicate with them about how your blog is going I’ve noticed that they often will get more involved with it.
* Gives Your Blog a ‘Face’ - one of the main benefits that I’ve noticed about these sorts of sessions when I’ve done them on video using Ustream is that it gives your blog a more personal edge. Readers get to see and hear what you’re like and come away feeling a different kind of connection than they get just reading your content.
* Clearing up Misconceptions - giving readers a chance to tell you what they think of your blog and to listen to your response can help clear up misconceptions that they might have about you or your site.
* Reader Involvement - getting readers involved in your blog in any way (even if it’s just asking a question or watching a video/web cast) means that they’re investing something of themselves into your blog. What comes out of these interactions can be all kinds of great ideas that they can give you - not to mention the things you might ask them to DO in promoting your community to their own network.
* Readers Using Your Blog Better - these sorts of ‘town hall’ meetings give you an opportunity to point out features of your blog that readers might not be aware of to help them to use it better. For example, pointing out the social media bookmarking buttons on your blog, explaining how to subscribe via RSS, showing off a newsletter you produce - all of these things can deepen reader engagement/satisfaction and help you grow your blog.

While not all of your readers will be interested on the behind the scenes goings on of your blog - some will.


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